India Walton upsets longtime incumbent in Buffalo mayor's race

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Image of India Walton, who won the Democratic Party primary Tuesday for mayor of Buffalo as a socialist. Photo courtesy of India Walton campaign

Image of India Walton, who won the Democratic Party primary Tuesday for mayor of Buffalo as a socialist. Photo courtesy of India Walton campaign

June 23 (UPI) -- Buffalo, N.Y., socialist mayoral candidate India B. Walton beat four-term incumbent Byron Brown in a stunning upset in the Democratic Party primary there Tuesday, winning 52% of the vote.

Walton, 39, still has to win the general election in November, but Buffalo last elected a Republican mayor in 1965. She defeated one of the state's Democratic heavyweights in Brown, a former New York Democratic Party chairman and state legislator.

"This victory is ours," Brown told supporters, according to NBC News. "It is the first of many. If you are in an elected office right now, you are being put on notice. We are coming."

Walton said there is no need to fear her socialist title, saying she is part of a progressive movement that seeks to eradicate poverty and bring power and resources to the grassroots level.

"I'm just excited to be a part of this movement that is ushering progressive politics into Buffalo," Walton told the Buffalo News. "Being the third-poorest midsize city in this country, we should be considering how we begin to eradicate concentrated poverty and disadvantage, and democratic socialist leanings are a big step in getting us there."

Brown, who has close ties to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, refused to concede early Wednesday, saying the race was still too close.

"We're going to make sure every single vote is counted," Brown told The New York Times.

Brown refused to debate Walton during the campaign, appearing often with Cuomo during the governor's news conferences in Western New York to promote the elimination of coronavirus restrictions.

Walton, though, campaigned vigorously in neighborhoods and with grassroots organizations, lining herself up with Cuomo's most vocal critics in the Democratic Party, which gave her a political foundation.

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